Read reflections and testimonies written by Holocaust survivors in their own words.

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  • Tracing Roots through Our Ancestors

    I remember visits to my maternal grandparents every Christmas. Though we are Jewish, this was the time we made our annual visit. My grandfather Stefan (Shmuel) Schreiber worked as an accountant for the Wedel Chocolate Factory and used to bring foil paper so I could shape it into a ball to play with. Grandmother Regina was always at her sewing machine, where she had a lot of treasures, including a fascinating box of buttons, which I played with when I was five years old. They lived in the center of Krakow in an apartment with a balcony. This was very important, my mother told me, because it was used to great effect to hide the Christmas tree from my grandfather’s notice. He was liberal, but the tree was just too much for him to allow. My grandfather had moved the family from a suburb of Krakow into the city so the children could go to Polish public schools. They didn’t speak Yiddish at home, only Polish.

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  • A Small Loss

    In 1939, when World War II started, my first loss was my father, who was caught by the Russian occupying forces as he was trying to return home. He was sent to Siberia for 20 years’ hard labor. That was only the beginning, but it was a very big loss.

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  • Lying

    I am not a good liar; my face gives me away. The best I can do is stay silent.

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  • My Last Vacation

    Every visit we made to the country of our birth, Poland, ended the same way. We always said, “We will probably not be coming back again.” There seemed no reason for another visit since whatever remnants of my family that survived the Holocaust did not live in Poland any more.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Learning about the Holocaust

    It took many years before I learned about the enormity of the Holocaust, even though I had lived through it. I only knew my own story, which started when I was not yet seven years old. My first memory is losing my father when the war started in September 1939. The most prevalent feeling throughout my ordeal was fear, which increased as time went by and as I understood more clearly what was happening to us because we were Jews. My family was not observant, so my religion did not give me any comfort.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 8

  • Going Back

    My long-term memory is full of blanks. I had hoped that revisiting the places of my childhood would help bring back some of the memories, but this has not happened. Until age seven, I lived in Zaleszczyki, Poland (present-day Ukraine), a small historic vacation town on the frontier with Romania. The town was very picturesque and almost completely surrounded by the Dniestr river, which served as the natural border between Poland and Romania.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 7

  • The Happiest Day in My Life

    Luckily, I have had more than one happy day in my life. One such day was when I visited Israel for the first time. I was excited and apprehensive about the trip because I knew so little about Israel. I wondered what the country looked like and how it would make me feel.

    Tags:   halina yasharoff peabodyechoes of memory, volume 6